Pearson’s masterfully observant debut poetry collection scours littoral and urban landscapes.
“The Sandpiper’s Spell” is a six-part poem and epilogue that in its simplest interpretation is a walk along a beach to a forest. The poet becomes a beachcomber, picking out aesthetically pleasing images from the coastline: the way the “waning tide has left / a crescent of cooler sand” or the pattern of “red orange pine needles / cross hatching the ground.” The collection is structured so that each part of “The Sandpiper’s Spell” is followed by a series of short poems that briefly transport the reader away from the coastal setting before returning to the shoreline to continue the journey. Childhood stands out as a recurrent theme. “Circus World” remembers “evaporating in a midday haze / on a back corner of childhood / the tree we climbed and stayed / past dark” and also that progressive loss of innocence, “you who kissed me / hard on the mouth / when we were both ten,” which leads inevitably to adulthood, where faded mementos of youth are all that remain, “still hanging in a corner / a netless basketball hoop.” Other poems, like “Death of a...” leave the serenity of the ocean for a bustling city where a pedestrian is about to take a fatal step into the street. Pearson’s work—which rapidly shifts through a gamut of psychological states—is a welcome reminder that reading poetry is a vigorous mental activity. Poems such as “Day Dreams” showcase Pearson’s ability to create striking imagery. Here, he effortlessly morphs shoreline detritus into clever caricature: “white bubbles button / his fish face / to his man body / an inverted voyeur / the bleached bones / of his ship / wrecked.” As the collection progresses, the poetry becomes more clipped, abstract, and urgent but no less powerful: “nimbus / blood candy sky / sand in stone /snow on mountain / crimson salt bleeding rivers from / under the mountain’s petticoat.” Both vastly panoramic and deeply introspective, Pearson’s writing explores both the wonders of nature and the shifting landscape of the human mind.
A startlingly intuitive new poet—one to watch.